French commuters battle rail strike delays

13th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 13 (AFP) - Travellers and French commuters, especially those in the Paris area, fought delays Thursday after rail workers called a strike over plans to reorganise the freight sector of the national railway SNCF.

PARIS, May 13 (AFP) - Travellers and French commuters, especially those in the Paris area, fought delays Thursday after rail workers called a strike over plans to reorganise the freight sector of the national railway SNCF.

SNCF management said an average 70 percent of high-speed TGV trains, 60 percent of regional Corail trains, and more than 50 percent of suburban trains in Paris were running - better than originally predicted.

Eurostar trains between Paris and London, and Thalys high-speed trains linking France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, operated on schedule despite the strike, the SNCF said.

But all domestic overnight trains were cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday.

The 36-hour strike, which began at 8pm Wednesday, was to last until 8am on Friday. Trade unions put participation at 30 percent, but the SNCF said only 20 percent of workers had walked off the job.

Four trade unions launched the strike call in protest at the SNCF's three-year plan to restructure the freight sector, which calls for the elimination of 2,500 jobs in 2004.

No one will be fired, according to SNCF management, but freight employees will be transferred to other posts.

Elsewhere in France, trains linking Paris and the eastern city of Strasbourg were running close to schedule, while traffic between the capital and the southeastern city of Lyon was expected to return to normal after midday.

Only one of every two trains between the southwestern city of Toulouse and Paris was in operation.

In southern France, rail traffic suffered serious disruptions, with only one of five regional trains in and around the port of Marseille in service, and one of four running near the Riviera city of Nice.


©AFP

Subject: French news

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